Are you looking for bushwalking Brisbane North adventures in Moreton Bay Region which will take you off the beaten track and away from the weekend hiking crowds? If so, head to Northbrook Gorges located in the back country of Brisbane Forest Park in the Southern Section of D’Aguilar National Park for a day filled with fantastic hiking and rock pool swimming amidst beautiful scenery.
This little-known and well-hidden hike is a must for anyone who loves bush-bashing and river bed walking interspersed with gorgeous gorges requiring swimming, as well as ankle-deep and waist high wading.
There are several rock pools along the journey with the longest measuring about 15 to 20 metres. The highlight of this hike is the large, almost crystal clear, rock swimming pool, complete with a short waterfall, found in the second gorge. This large waterhole is shaded by the forest’s towering trees and the gorge’s tall walls so you should expect a refreshingly cool swim here.
Bell bird songs and other tranquil forest sounds can be heard throughout the gorges. If you keep your eyes peeled you may very well see lizards and monitors climbing trees and snakes sunning on warm rocks, amongst other native wildlife going about their business.
There are no designated picnic areas with tables and chairs along the walk, but there are many spots comfortable for enjoying a snack, or even a picnic.
One of the most popular and picturesque areas for a nibble is found beneath the overhanging rock ledge beside the smaller of Northbrook’s rock swimming pools located closest to ‘The Quick Way’ entrance (detailed further below). The spacious and comfy spot is a welcome reprieve from the hot rays of the sun during summertime.
Please Note: There are no bins along your journey so please make sure to take your rubbish with you when you leave.
The majority of the Northbrook Gorges hike will take you over rocks, boulders, and rough & slippery terrain, making it best suited to fit and experienced hikers (especially if entering the area from the Wivenhoe Lookout).
You will need to rock hop, swim and make calculated steps on small stones so patience is required to experience the hike in its entirety.
Some waterholes are knee high, while others definitely require swimming. Much of the hike involves getting your feet wet walking in the water, up the creek.
If you’re keen to give this bushwalking Brisbane North adventure a go with younger children, or if you lack a good level of fitness, or are not so well-versed when it comes to bushwalking, we advise you enter the gorges ‘The Quick Way’ (detailed below) to avoid the steep descent and lengthy walk from Wivenhoe Lookout.
If you are up for a challenge and think you can handle going ‘The Long Way’, or ‘The Not Quite so Long Way’, you’re welcome to try, but be aware if you are taking younger kids it is likely you will need to turn back before reaching the last gorge as little ones will tire out. Primary aged kids on the other hand may have just enough energy and enthusiasm to walk the trail and swim through the rock swimming pools all by themselves.
Please be aware, as this hike is not signposted and less well-tramped compared to other more well-known local hikes, you have a higher likelihood of encountering snakes along the way so stick to the trails, keep children close and keep your eyes peeled as you walk.
Northbrook Gorges trails are not maintained by the Department of National Parks. Caution needs to be exercised when entering the area.
Drive along Mt Glorious Road which becomes Northbrook Parkway past Wivenhoe Lookout. Follow the twists and turns for another 10 minutes or so until you spy a, blink and you’ll miss it, 20 km/h speed sign on the left side of the road before a hairpin right turn.
This is the first 20 km/h sign you will encounter along the road past Wivenhoe Lookout. Opposite this speed sign is an unmarked, off-road parking area to the right, just before you enter the hairpin turn. It should have enough room to fit about 7 cars.
Please Take Care: As you need to turn right, crossing the oncoming lane which exits the hairpin turn to enter the carpark area, please be extra cautious of oncoming traffic. Approaching vehicles have restricted visibility coming around the very tight bend. If you do not feel confident turning across the oncoming lane, continue on to turn around at White Cedar Park, a sign-posted picnic spot further along the road.
Bushwalking Brisbane Northbrook Gorges Track Entrance: The trail starts a little further down from behind the road barrier fence on the other side of the road. After you’ve parked, cross the road and walk downwards following the road from behind the fence. As the road curves you will see the trail branch-off down the mountain to your left.
Coordinates: 27°18'28.2"S 152°42'48.4"E
After about 330 metres of downhill walking you will come to Northbrook Creek. Turn left at the bottom (take note of the rock pile here as it marks the start of the trail back up to the carpark) and follow the track to the gorges. You will need to do some rock hopping along the way. If you plan to check out all the gorges and the enjoy the walk in its entirety you will need to swim through a few rock swimming pools and scamper uphill towards Wivenhoe Lookout before backtracking to your car.
Allow: 30 minutes to get to the first gorge section. Up to 2 hours for leisurely swimming and wading in the various gorges before heading back to the car without continuing towards to Wivenhoe Lookout.
If you’d like to make a swim through the gorges part of a long, enjoyable hiking day out then park your vehicle at the Wivenhoe Lookout, past Maila National Park. The trail is hard to see, you will find it behind the lookout’s toilets to the right. It descends down a steep gully. The steep section of the descent lasts about 40 minutes.
We recommend inexperienced hikers opt for ‘The Quick Way’ into the gorges as you need a good level of fitness to backtrack and push yourself back up the mountain taking ‘The Long Way’.
Allow: About 4-5 hours or longer if you’re keen to lap up the serenity taking your time and enjoying numerous pit-stops and a few refreshing swims.
Drive past Wivenhoe Lookout and descend steeply to the first bridge crossing. Park near the bridge in the very small carpark area. It only has enough room for about 2 cars.
Follow the rough track down into the creek and enjoy a pleasant walk upstream. After about 30 minutes you will enter the first gorge. This gorge usually necessitates hikers swim across to continue the walk. If you’re not keen to get wet you can bush-bash along a hard to see, steep path on the left, up and over the gorge.
After you’ve crossed the first gorge continue for about another 30 minutes to the second. Once again, you can either swim through, or bush-bash along a track on the left hand side of the creek. Higher-up, this track joins a faint, steep track that leads to Wivenhoe lookout.
You can continue up past the second gorge to discover more rock pools and small waterfalls.
When you’ve finished lapping up the serenity and exploring the area, retrace your steps to the carpark.
Allow: About 3 to 4 hours if you plan to stop, enjoy a few leisurely swims and take in the surrounds along your bushwalking Brisbane North expedition.